Fibre, fibre, fibre. It gets a good wrap – most of us know that it’s critical to good gut health. But scratch the surface, dive a little deeper. Are you up to date on your fibre facts? Do you know the best types of fibre to include in your diet, and the different sources of fibre?
Types of Fibre
Yes, we all know that fibre is good for our gut health – but there’s a lot more to the story than that.
Dietary fibre can be classified in a number of ways; whether the fibre is soluble or insoluble and whether it has prebiotic effects for example. The various types of fibres each have different effects so eating a combination of fibre can provide a range of benefits.
- Soluble Fibre: slows down digestion, so that food takes longer to pass through the stomach and intestine; and also assists to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Found in BARLEYmax®™, oats, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and some fruits and vegetables.
- Insoluble Fibre: has the greatest influence on the large bowel – absorbs water and helps to increase frequency and bulk. Found in BARLEYmax®™, wholegrain breads and cereals.
- Prebiotics: prebiotic fibre acts as a food source for the good bacteria in the gut, to support a healthy gut flora. Prebiotics are not broken down by the body until they reach the large intestine – truly promoting good gut health through the whole length of the digestive system. If this wasn’t impressive enough, when the good bacteria of the gut are dominant, it creates an environment that protects the bowel walls and also supports a healthy immune response. Most researchers agree that good health is associated with a diversity of the gut bacteria and it seems reasonable therefore to think that it’s good to eat a range of different prebiotics to help support a range of different gut bacteria. BARLEYmax®™, wholegrain contains at least four different prebiotics including resistant starch.
Benefits of Fibre
There are many health benefits that arise from the adequate consumption of fibre. While most of us could name at least one benefit of fibre, there are a whole range of impressive ways that eating the right amount – and right combination of fibre – can make a big difference to your health.
Fuller for longer
Eating a diet that is rich in high-fibre foods can make a big difference when it comes to taking a detour past the office biscuit jar. Just as we’ve touched on earlier in this article, it’s important to include the optimal mix of fibre types in your diet as well as both soluble and insoluble fibre play roles in managing your appetite.
In particular, soluble fibre dissolves when it comes into contact with the liquids in your digestive tract, forming a substance that has the consistency of a thick gel. The gel that is created helps you feel fuller for longer slowing down the rate at which food passes through your digestive system.
On the other hand, insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water – however it does absorb water, creating bulk within the digestive system. This bulk can facilitate a feeling of fullness in your stomach. The gel that is formed in the digestive tract by soluble fibre can also slow down the movement of faecal bulk through the system.
Keeping it on the regular
Dietary fibre is important for keeping your visits to the bathroom regular – and most importantly – healthy. The bulk that insoluble fibre creates within the digestive system increases the weight of your stool, and also helps to soften it so that it can pass through your system comfortably.
Whilst this is an important day to day benefit that arises from eating a fibre-rich diet, there is an even more important benefit to a fibre-filled diet. A diet rich in fibre is a key contributor to maintaining bowel heath – in fact studies have proven that eating a fibre rich diet that includes wholegrains such as BARLEYmax®™ can reduce your risk of colon cancer by up to 40%.
Resistant starch also plays a big role in maintaining the health of your digestive system, acting as a food source for the good bacteria in your gut. Feeding your gut a decent dose of resistant starch encourages a healthy, flourishing ecosystem to develop and grow, maintaining your gut health – but more importantly, playing a role in your overall health and wellbeing. A little fibre can make a big difference!
Show your heart some love
A diet rich in fibre, and particularly soluble fibre, can help to lower ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Cast your mind back to the ‘gel’ we mentioned earlier in this article, that is created by soluble fibre. This soluble fibre essentially helps bind LDL cholesterol together – and escort it out of your body – so that it can’t be reabsorbed by your blood stream. That’s a pretty impressive health benefit that you can reap just by making sure you’re eating enough fibre per day.
So, what’s the magic number?
The total amount of fibre recommended to be consumed each day varies with factors including age and gender. However, as a general guide, the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council suggests that the minimum daily required fibre intake is 25g for men, and 30g for women – in order to maintain digestive health. Put simply, enjoying grain foods 3-4 times a day and choosing wholegrain options wherever you can will put you in good stead for overall health and wellbeing.